Virginia 500 spotlight: AMY GILLILAND
President, General Dynamics Information Technology, Falls Church
For Mental Health Awareness month, Virginia Business is spotlighting Gilliland, who launched the “How are you, really?” campaign within GDIT in 2021 following an employee’s death by suicide. In an industry in which many workers depend on security clearances, the campaign aims to destigmatize mental health issues and encourages employees in need to seek help.
WHY IS ‘HOW ARE YOU, REALLY?’ IMPORTANT? As an employer, I believe we have a responsibility to raise awareness around the importance of mental wellness and continue to encourage critical conversations on how we can support ourselves and one another. In fact, the ability to be mission-ready for our customers is contingent upon having a healthy, resilient team.
HOW DOES SEEKING HELP FOR MENTAL HEALTH IMPACT SECURITY CLEARANCES? More than 25% of our workforce are veterans — add to this our thousands of cleared professionals. Both populations struggle with the stigma around seeking mental health help, particularly those who fear it might impact their clearance. Statistically, only 0.00115% of clearances have been denied or revoked due to mental health and seeking counseling does not prohibit someone from acquiring or retaining a security clearance.
HOW IS THE CAMPAIGN WORKING? Almost every day, an employee tells me about how the campaign has helped them get help or get help for a loved one. We have seen a significant increase in employees accessing mental health counseling.
HOW SHOULD BUSINESS LEADERS VIEW EMPLOYEE MENTAL HEALTH? While these conversations and work alternatives can be a huge culture shift for companies, imagine our resiliency as a nation if we used our collective platforms and technologies to proactively tackle mental health issues. Everyone is struggling with something, and I believe in leading with compassion. It’s an important part of our culture at GDIT, and it’s important to me that our employees know that we see them, we hear them and we support them. This campaign further reinforced my belief that you can lead with compassion while still driving results.
BEST ADVICE FOR OTHERS: Be kind.